USPTO SealThe proposed Patent Reform Act of 2011 and will be considered by the full Senate when it reconvenes beginning today, February 28.  Final passage of the bill is not assured and similar bills have been reported out of committee twice in recent years.
The bill includes several provisions that are unfriendly to small business patent owners and independent inventors; namely, moving to a first-to-file system rather than the current first-to-invent system, limiting damages for patent infringement and allowing post-grant opposition to patents.  The bill generally makes it harder for an applicant to obtain a patent and more difficult to enforce the patent after it is issued.

The patent reform legislation generally has been supported by companies, particularly in the technology sector, that are frequent targets of patent infringement litigation and that believe that the patent system is tilted too far in favor of inventors.  The legislation is generally opposed by individual inventors and those favoring a strong patent system.

–Robert Yarbrough, Esq.